They fall nearly a month apart: Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day. These two days commemorate the sacrifices made by American men and women in defense of their country. People of the “greatest generation” remember the sacrifices made not only on the warfront but the home front too.
Now until Pearl Harbor Day (December 7) the Quilters Hall of Fame located in the historic Marie Webster House features an exhibit by guest curator Sue Reich entitled, “Quiltmaking 1942 to 1945 – The War Years.”
Many seniors remember the homefront activities-women going to work in nontraditional jobs while their men went off to war. Scrap drives, Victory Gardens, ration books and raising children without their father’s presence. During this time the Kansas City Star Aunt Martha and Nancy Page kept their female readers abreast of the newest quilt patterns and kits. What could be a better use of one’s spare moments than to make a warm quilt in a patriotic theme, especially if your lady neighbors and relatives were available to help quilt and socialize?
I call Sue at her home in Connecticut where she’s busy assisting her son-in-law a Coast Guard officer prepare to head out to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Sue is a quilt maker, collector, lecturer and appraiser. In the 1990s she works on the Connecticut Quilt Search Project (CQSP) where over 3000 quilts made and currently residing in Connecticut before 1950 were photographed, their oral history and physical analysis documented (bit.ly/SV7AHg). At the time Sue thought it unusual that there were no quilts from the “War Years”. She surmises women were too busy working, gardening and rearing children to have time to quilt.
Sue’s late father a WW II veteran served on the USS Saratoga. When the WW II Memorial is dedicated in 2004, Sue is there to honor his service to his country. While touring the Memorial she is amazed to see certain images similar to those in the CQSP quilts. Not being aware of what images the homefront women used, she now realizes a few of their quilts are included in the project.
Upon this revelation Sue is determined to shed light on the WW II era quilts. For the past ten years she’s researched 1940s newspapers and magazines where she finds hundreds of articles pertaining to women and their quilt making.
Sue theorizes after the men came home families wanted to leave the war years behind so uniforms, letters and patriotic quilts were packed away. It is Sue’s experience that it isn’t until mom passes away, do the children find WW II items in the attic. These quilts are now coming into the market place. Sue is fortunate to have 60 in her collection that she uses for education and research purposes.
The museum exhibit includes a Red Cross quilt, quilts with patriotic themes and period wedding quilts along with other WW II related artifacts. An added bonus: two quilts based on Marie Webster patterns-how fitting! What a great way to introduce children to the WW II homefront experience!
The Quilters Hall of Fame is located at 926 S. Washington St., Marion, Indiana.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Thursday – Saturday.
Admission is Adults $4, Seniors and Students $3, Children (6-12) $1, Under 6 Free
Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Saturday November 24 is “Shop Local Day”. Please consider patronizing the fine businesses that call Waynedale and the surrounding area home.
Do you have a special Christmas quilt you would like to share with your fellow Waynedale News readers? If so, please contact Lois through the Waynedale News.
Lois Eubank is the owner of the recently relocated (4005 South Wayne Ave.) Born Again Quilts restoration studio and gallery. She may be contacted at 260-515-9446 or through the Waynedale News.